Above photo: Stan Lewis, photographed inside of Stan’s Record Shop, circa 1955. Photo provided by post author Chris Brown.
On Saturday, March 8, 2014,Unscene Shreveport will celebrate the achievements of Stan “The Record Man” Lewis. The day includes performances by musicians who recorded for the Jewel/Paula/Ronn record labels, panel discussions featuring Shreveport disc jockeys, and a public interview/Q & A with Stan Lewis. Complete details of the day-long celebration are posted here.
If parking lots could talk, the one at 728 Texas Street would surely choose to sing. The building that once stood here represents one of Shreveport’s most significant locations related to music history. At this spot in 1948, Stanley J. Lewis (born 1927) purchased the J & M Record Shop No. 1 and founded Stan’s Record Shop. Over the next 37 years, the modest store grew into a record empire comprising six retail stores, a nationwide mail order and distributor service, and three record labels (Jewel, Paula, and Ronn).
Lewis’s life story would easily yield a fascinating biography or documentary. In the 1950s, he developed a long-lasting friendship with Leonard Chess from Chicago. This resulted in Chess releasing records by Shreveport musicians, such as: Jimmy and Johnny, TV Slim, Lucky Clark, and (Stan’s Record Shop employee) Dale Hawkins of “Susie Q” fame.
In 1964, Lewis began releasing 45s on his own record label, Jewel. Soon thereafter, he founded two additional labels: Paula and Ronn. Over the next 20 years, Lewis’s labels issued over 1,000 releases. Those 45s, LPs, reel to reels, 8 tracks, cassettes, and compact discs shared some truly classic songs with the world. Perhaps the most well-known are Toussaint McCall’s “Nothing Takes The Place Of You” (Ronn 3, 1967) and John Fred And His Playboy Band’s “Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)” (Paula 282, 1967).
Of those additional 998+ releases, Lewis’s labels preserved in wax the sounds of many Shreveport/North Louisiana musicians including Banny Price, Tom & the Cats, The Uniques, The In-Crowd, Nat Stuckey, Bill Bush, Five By Five, Family Tree, Rogue Show, The Bad Habits, Bobby Patterson, and Rev. Brady L. Blade. At the same time, Lewis sustained the careers of many veteran rhythm and blues performers with releases by Jerry McCain, Peppermint Harris, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Ted Taylor, Little Johnny Taylor, Roscoe Robinson, and Fontella Bass. Then there’s the nearly 400 gospel records by the likes of The Violinaires, The Brooklyn Allstars, Soul Stirrers, Rev. Willie Morganfield, Rev. Johnny “Hurricane” Jones, and Rev. C. L. Franklin (father of Aretha). For those wanting to dig deeper into the music, my favorite songs connected to Lewis are listed at the Shreveport Songs blog.
For recommended reading about Stan Lewis, check out the following:
● Bill Williams, “Stan Lewis Sets Records With His Operation,” Billboard (August 11,
Pioneers. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009), 161-165.
For Stan Lewis-related listening, check out the following compact disc compilations:
● The Jewel Records Gospel Story (Fuel 2000 Records, 2013)
● The Jewel/Paula Blues Story (Fuel 2000 Records, 2013)
● Holy Spirit: Spiritual Soul & Gospel Funk From Shreveport’s Jewel Records (Harmless Records, 2012)
● The Jewel/Paula Soul Story (Fuel 2000 Records, 2011)
● The Northern Soul of Jewel Paula Ronn (Outta Sight Records, 2010)